Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day: "Please Don't Thank Me For My Service"

Camillo Mac Bica:
[P]lease do not thank me for "my service" as a United States Marine. I make this request because my service, as you refer to it, was basically, either to train to become a killer or to actually kill people and blow shit up.

Now, that is not something for which a person should be proud nor thanked. In fact, it is regrettable, and for me a source of guilt and shame, something I will have to live with for the rest of my life, as the past cannot ever be undone. So, when you thank me for my service, it disturbs me ... a lot. ...

Where is the honor, glory and nobility in killing and dying for greed, incompetence, and paranoia? ...

[I]f you really insist on thanking me for something, do not thank me for the eight years I spent as a Marine, but for the 45 or so years following my discharge from the military that I have spent as an activist fighting for human rights and social justice and to end the insanity of war. ... [I]f you truly want to demonstrate your good character, patriotism, and support for the troops and veterans, rather than merely mouth meaningless expressions of gratitude for something you don't truly understand or care much about, do something meaningful and real. Do what is truly in the interest of this nation and of those victimized by war.

Make some demands.

Demand, for example, an immediate end to the corporate takeover of our "democracy" and to the undue influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex. Demand sanity in Pentagon spending and a reallocation of finite resources to people-focused programs such as health care, education and jobs rather than to killing and destruction. Demand an immediate end to wars for corporate profit, greed, power and hegemony. Demand that we adhere to the Constitution and to international law. Demand accountability for those who make war easily and care more for wealth, profit and power than for national interest or for the welfare of their fellow human beings. And finally, demand the troops be brought home now, and that they be adequately treated and cared for when they return.
tazman69er:
There are numerous points I would like to make in this proclamation, yet, if you only take away one thing, please, don't ever thank me for my "service." For when you thank me for my service, you are thanking me for being a dupe, an unconscious human being, engaged in the enterprise of state sanctioned murder to an "other, over there." ...

When you thank me for my service, you are unconsciously re-affirming your belief that somehow we are fighting "them, over there" so we "don't have to fight them here." You are telling me, "thank you for putting on a state sanctioned uniform costume and murdering 'them' for me, while I look away from the awfulness of state sanctioned murder." ...

My service was nothing other than committing state sanctioned murder on behalf of a bunch of old (mostly white) guys and gals with their own agendas, without regard for humanity. I don't want to be thanked for that. ...

Every time someone thanks me for my "service," it only brings back all of the emotion, guilt and shame for having been duped into the enterprise of war in the first place.
Michael Krieger:
[W]henever I find myself in the midst of a large public gathering (which fortunately isn't that often), and the token veteran or two is called out in front of the masses to "honor" I immediately begin to cringe as a result of a massive internal conflict. On the one hand, I recognize that the veteran(s) being honored is most likely a decent human being. Either poor or extraordinarily brainwashed, the man or woman paraded in front of the crowd is nothing more than a pawn. ...

On the other hand, the entire spectacle makes me sick. I refuse to participate in the superficial charade for many reasons, but the primary one is that I don't want to play any part in the crowd's insatiable imbecility. It's the stupidity and ignorance of the masses that the corporate-state preys upon, and that's precisely what's on full display at these tired and phony imperialist celebrations.
Phil Rockstroh:
Rather than continue to memorialize it, let's bury a reeking heap of noxious and obnoxious mythos: US soldiers did not and do not kill and die defending freedom. The soldiers of militarist empires are not sent to war for any noble purpose. They are trained killers and their mission is conquest in the name of power and for the purpose of plunder. And that is the reason that it is imperative for the beneficiaries of said power and plunder to make sacred the obscenities that the soldiers of empire perpetrate.

This is the task of the hagiographers of war: To make noble and heroic mass murder; to banish any lingering trace of the stench of death. All voices of doubt must be shamed and silenced -- for the lie is fragile.

If the mortifying truth was known then fielding new recruits would prove a daunting task. The empire would be hobbled. Empire's patrician class would have to seek honest work. Sounds like a plan to me.

Memorial day is a marketing roll out. If you desire to make meaningful the deaths of those lost to wars then cease believing the lies of those who grow wealthy from the hideous business of waging it.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Death Merchant #47: Operation Skyhook

After pretty much ignoring the entire plot of Blood Bath, and focusing my attention instead on the various characters' political comments, I'm doing something different with Operation Skyhook. I'll summarize each chapter as I go along.

Back cover: "Out Of Orbit". A test version of a Russian satellite "armed with lasers" crash-lands in Indonesia and the Death Merchant - "the slickest, cruelest saboteur in the business" - must race the KGB (and the Indonesians) to nab the dangerous oktok-1.

Chapter 1: After Richard "Death Merchant" Camellion meets with CIA agent Forrest Dasher at a warehouse a few miles outside of Jakarta, they are ambushed coming out of the building. Dasher is killed; Camellion ducks back inside. He eventually kills two three-man teams of Russians and makes his escape back to the city. He thinks about the mission. (It turns out that the name of the satellite is misspelled on the back cover! It's actually Votok-1.) The US managed to override the satellite's electrical instructions and it parachuted to Earth, landing in the mountains of Indonesia. It is now apparently hidden somewhere near Jakarta. The US must possess the inner workings of the satellite at all costs, as it trails the Russians in the space weapons race.

Chapter 2: Colonel Andrew Uzhgorod heads a meeting the following morning at the Soviet Embassy in Jakarta. The Russians debate the encounter at the warehouse and offer all sort of exposition about how they tracked Dasher to the meeting. They also have an informer in the town who saw soldiers, technicians, and other Indonesians dismantling Votok. One of the Russians suspects that the lone agent who wiped out the six would-be assassins was the Cempt Tobtocpam (the Death Merchant).

Chapter 3: More discussion as Camellion (using the name James George Valdorian, a travel journalist) meets with six other men (CIA, SIS and Western Germany military intelligence) at a Jakarta safe house. They suspect that Uzhgorod is the Chief of Station at the Embassy and Camellion suggests they "blackbag" him at his house. (The men recoil in surprise, calling it a "high-octane hazard" and "suicide"). Camellion also requests a map of the city's power generating plant.

Chapter 4: Camellion and Lester Cole are near Uzhgorod's house. Cole is setting up "Mister Fuck-Up", a Microwave Impedator that renders all audio and motion detectors and alarms, etc. useless. When a diversionary explosion at the power plant plunges Jakarta into darkness, the Death Merchant goes to work, cutting a hole in a chain-link fence, killing a guard with a 2-inch steel needle coated with pure nicotine, picking the front door lock, and going inside the house. But it's a trap! Uzhgorod and four KGB attempt to take him alive, but Camellion, using martial arts and his Browning, manages to escape, but he has to kill Uzhgorod to do so.

Chapter 5: Camellion and Cole are on their way back to the getaway car when the Death Merchant has a strong hunch they might be walking into a trap. They use some listening devices and it turns out there are seven members of the Secret Police Agents hiding near the car. C&C split up and circle around and wipe out the goons with bullets and thermate. Three other cars approach and they eliminate them, as well. They steal one of those cars and drive away.

Chapter 6: Major-General Mashuri and Colonel Thojib Sadli of the Indonesian Army discuss events and suspect the two Americans are CIA agents. Although Valdorian and Cole are unlikely to return to their hotel rooms, there are agents waiting just in case. They suspect the explosion at the power plant was a distraction before the kidnap attempt. They must find the Americans, but also suspect that they might be the Americans' next target.

Chapter 7: On a balmy fall day in Tjikini Market, an elderly Chinese man (Camellion in disguise) walks around. Camellion planted listening devices in his hotel room and as they get close to the building, they can hear conversations from the waiting assassins. ("Screw a crippled crab!") He and Cole go instead to the Brass Palace to meet with Chao Bing Thepkok and his assistant. It's unclear why they go to this place, but Thepkok says the local police (GROB) were in asking about Valdorian and Cole, and they had photographs. GROB agents are returning and the four men make their escape through a tunnel accessed from the back room. Camellion leaves behind some explosives to destroy the building and kill the agents. The tunnel exits in a garage owned by Thepkok. Cole kills Thepkok and his assistant and he and Camellion escape in a Toyota. More planted RDX destroys the garage, killing 67 people who live nearby.

Chapter 8: At Soi-Simokk safe house. Pessimism over not finding Votok. The likelihood of nabbing Kdija or Sadli, who are very well-guarded, is small. Maybe they could grab one of their underlings. Camellion needs information on the men surrounding Kdija and Sadli. (Also a quick narrative diversion to call Indonesia food "slop".)

Chapter 9: The Death Merchant decides to get Captain Kuwloon at his apartment in the Morning Rose apartment complex in the middle of the night. GROB has agents across the hall and in the adjoining room and has planted listening devices throughout Kuwloon's apartment. Camellion and Cole sneak in the back of the building, while three others go in front of the apartment house and kill the desk clerk. "Sleeping peacefully, the numerous residents of the apartment house didn't realize that the Cosmic Lord of Death was about to descend on the Morning Rose ..."

Chapter 10: Up the elevator to the 9th floor. Camellion and Cole break into the apartment and quickly kill the 2 half-asleep GROB agents acting as guards. They head for Kuwloon's bedroom and gather him, his wife, and children in one room. Cole has found listening devices and tells Camellion. Camellion takes his Auto Mags and fires through the walls into the adjoining apartments, killing several men and confusing the others. Cole comes out of the bedroom saying that GROB has hidden Votok "in the temple of Pura Besakih on Bali". It turns out he has also killed the entire family; Camellion is upset because Cole disobeyed orders. The surviving GROB agents from the other apartments attack, but they are stopped by a greenish gas ("diphenycyanoarsine") and shot.

Chapter 11: Alkenazy, the next day, discusses the attack on the apartment. The KGB also has information on Votok, as a female agent slept with Indonesia's Minister of the Interior. Now, with the KGB and CIA knowing the true location of Votok, the race is on! It is thought that both sides will use helicopters to bring troops to the side of the mountain.

Chapter 12: The CIA doesn't want to use any American personnel for this mission, so Camellion calls on Mad Mike Ryan and his Thunderbolt Unit: Omega (who apparently will make future appearances in the series). Nine Boeing-Vertol CH-49 copters head towards Mount Agung. They pick up 12 aircraft to the east on radar - Russian copters! But they decide not to fire on them, choosing to have the battle on Gunung Agung, near Pura Besakih, the fabled Hindu temple.

Chapter 13: Fighter jets start the battle from the air, raining down missiles on the temple and the surrounding area. The Indonesian army - a force of 3,000 - is in the clearing around Pura Besakih, but are undertrained and uncertain about firing their weapons. They are summarily slaughtered by both the US and Soviet fighters jets and by the guns aboard the helicopters.

Chapter 14: The Indonesians believed that only the Americans would be attacking and are stunned when the Russians also appear. After jumping out of their copters on opposite sides of the temple area, both the Americans and Russians begin firing missiles at the closest wall of the temple, as whoever gets inside the temple first will have a great advantage in finding the satellite. Both sides plan to lay down a cover of smoke grenades and make a straight-in charge.

Chapter 15: On the DM's side, they race to the temple and are not fired upon by what remains of the Indonesian force. Tossing in grenades and firing machine guns, both sides pour into the temple at nearly the same time. The US has an advantage as they have specially-rigged crossbows that can carry grenades - which they fire across the Sanctum area to where the Russians are. "Two Black Berets and a Soviet Marine became an assortment of arms, legs, and bloody, twisted entrails."

Chapter 16: Camellion, Cole and six mercenaries are hiding behind a huge statue of Siva when they realizes there may be Indonesians hiding inside. There is: Kdija, Sadli, and three others. The DM tosses in a couple of grenades, blowing them apart. Upon inspecting the damage, he spies a door to an underground room and surmises this is where the satellite is being hidden. He plants explosives - and blows the statue apart. When it comes crashing down, it crushes 74 Russian troops. Then Camellion places five blocks of HBX on the underground crates, set the timers, and make their escape. "Once more World War III had been avoided. There would be peace ... for a time ..."

The climatic battle in Operation Skyhook is pretty weak, with Rosenberger offering very little violent interaction between the two forces. Each side goes about its business without much interactions from the other. And the ending comes too abruptly, as though Rosenberger had reached his page limit and wanted to quickly wrap things up.

Etc.:

"Nothing ever came easy in this business - except dying, and I won't be lucky enough to die by a bullet. I'll probably end up broke and living to be ninety, spending my days counting mule fritters!"

..."blowing a hole in the man the diameter of an averaged-sized orange".

"[Camellion fired] seven rounds, three of which struck Sibramanian, killing him faster than a Jew travelling through Damascus on a pogo stick."

"Killing the sons-of-bitches would be as easy as using a shotgun to shoot a baby whale in a bathtub ..."

"Ever look into those eyes of his? I mean really look? It's like a dozen ice picks playing 'Chop Sticks' on your spine."

Rosenberger continues to flip-flop as far as how much information about the Death Merchant is known to foreign governments. Sometimes Camellion is infamous in the spy underworld; other times, like in Operation Skyhook, his identity is not known to any KGB/GRU agents.

Rosenberger mentions Jeff Cooper, who runs something called The American Pistol Institute in Paulden, Arizona. Cooper is quoted several times during the DM's attempted kidnapping of Uzhgorod. Like the oft-mentioned Lee Jurras, Cooper and his Institute are real. Now called Gunsite Academy, it "offers firearm training to elite military personnel, law enforcement officers and free citizens of the US".

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Three Books Examining The Writing Of David Foster Wallace

Here is some information on three books examining the writing of David Foster Wallace. The first one was published last month and the other two will be published in early 2016.

Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace
The book Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, published in 2010 by Columbia University Press, presented David Foster Wallace's challenge to Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism. In this anthology, notable philosophers engage directly with that work and assess Wallace's reply to Taylor as well as other aspects of Wallace's thought.

With an introduction by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, this collection includes essays by William Hasker (Huntington University), Gila Sher (University of California, San Diego), Marcello Oreste Fiocco (University of California, Irvine), Daniel R. Kelly (Purdue University), Nathan Ballantyne (Fordham University), Justin Tosi (University of Arizona), and Maureen Eckert. These thinkers explore Wallace's philosophical and literary work, illustrating remarkable ways in which his philosophical views influenced and were influenced by themes developed in his other writings, both fictional and nonfictional. Together with Fate, Time, and Language, this critical set unlocks key components of Wallace's work and its traces in modern literature and thought.
The Unspeakable Failures of David Foster Wallace: Language, Identity and Resistance
This book examines the writing of David Foster Wallace, hailed as the voice of a generation on his death. Critics have identified horror of solipsism, obsession with sincerity and a corresponding ambivalence regarding postmodern irony, and detailed attention to contemporary culture as the central elements of Wallace's writing. Clare Hayes-Brady draws on the evolving discourses of Wallace Studies, focusing on the unifying anti-teleology of his writing, arguing that that position is a fundamentally political response to the condition of neo-liberal America.

She argues that Wallace's work is most unified by its resistance to closure, which pervades the structural, narrative and stylistic elements of his writing. Taking a broadly thematic approach to the numerous types of "failure", or lack of completion, visible throughout his work, the book offers a framework within which to read Wallace's work as a coherent whole, rather than split along the lines of fiction versus non-fiction, or pre- and post-Infinite Jest, two critical positions that have become dominant over the last five years. While demonstrating the centrality of "failure", the book also explores Wallace's approach to sincere communication as a recurring response to what he saw as the inane, self-absorbed commodification of language and society, along with less explored themes such as gender, naming and heroism.

Situating Wallace as both a product of his time and an artist sui generis, Hayes-Brady details his abiding interest in philosophy, language and the struggle for an authentic self in late-twentieth-century America.

This title will be released on February 25, 2016.
The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace: Boredom and Addiction in an Age of Distraction
The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace is the first book to explore of key religious themes - from boredom to addiction, and distraction - in the work of one of America's most celebrated contemporary novelists.

In a series of short, topic-focussed chapters, the book joins a supercut of key scenes from Wallace's novels Infinite Jest and The Pale King with clear explanations of how they contribute to his overall account of what it means to be a human being in the 21st century. Adam Miller explores how Wallace's work masterfully investigates the nature of first-world boredom and shows, in the process, how easy it is to get addicted to distraction (chemical, electronic, or otherwise). Implicitly critiquing, excising, and repurposing elements of AA's Twelve Step program, Wallace suggests that the practice of prayer (regardless of belief in God), the patient application of attention to things that seem ordinary and boring, and the internalization of clich├ęs may be the antidote to much of what ails us in the 21st century.

This title will be released on February 25, 2016.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Death Merchant #46: Blood Bath

It would be wrong to call the first half of Blood Bath a pro-apartheid tract, but it is tempting.

First, as he did in Operation Thunderbolt (DM #31), author Joseph Rosenberger provides an explanatory note about the language he will be using:
"In this book there will be certain words and phrases, terms and racial vulgarisms, that are in current usage among white groups in the Republic of South Africa. These words and terms are not meant as racial insults to any group. We use them only for the effects of realism."
Then, the quotation at the beginning of the book is from none other than the Death Merchant himself, Richard J. Camellion of Votaw, Texas:
"The fight of the South Africans against Communist-motivated terrorists such as the Southwest Africa People's Organization [SWAPO] can be compared to the struggle of the Israelis to keep their homeland from being flooded by a tidal wave of Arabs."
This sentiment is 180 degrees from past comments made by Rosenberger's main character. Not that long ago, Camellion was mercilessly ripping the Israelis for their racist and violent policies towards the Palestinians. But now, Israel is the suffering underdog.

In Blood Bath, the Death Merchant is brought in to assist South Africa's Bureau of State Security ("BOSS") in assassinating Samuel Nujomo of SWAPO and KGB Colonel Josef Markevski, both of whom are fighting for equality in South Africa and an end to apartheid.

Although the book's boilerplate states, "All the characters ... portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people ... is purely coincidental", Nujomo is clearly meant to be Samuel Nujoma, a Namibian anti-apartheid activist. (In fact, the text on the back of the book gives the character's name as "Sam Nujoma"!) Likewise, another character is South African Prime Minister Bitha (a stand-in for the actual PM from 1978-84, P.W. Botha).

Since Camellion is working closely with white nationalists, the reader gets a steady diet of pro-apartheid and anti-black rhetoric, including a 7½-page (!) conversation early in the book. A small sampling of the discussion:
Pieter derMeer (BOSS): "Blacks are cheeky in any country; it's their nature. But I guess you Americans think we Afrikaners behave like SS men toward our natives?"

Frank Stockwell (CIA): "Not at all - at least I don't. Our American blacks have chased us out of our cities. Of course, the real fault lies with the do-gooders and other dreamers in our government. It's their preposterous theories that have resulted in bussing and integration. ... Whites are ever discriminated against in jobs. You see, our damn fool lawmakers are 'minority happy.'"

Earl Moorland (BOSS): "You can't mix the races and have any kind of culture, any kind of values."

derMeer: "In South Africa, we have more common sense. ... That is why we have apartheid."

Moorland: "Some races are prone to extreme violence. The black race heads the list. The Mexicans invading your [US] southern borders are another example."

derMeer: "On a weekend there are maybe a hundred thousand drunken blacks in Soweto. ... And you'd have us make those savages our equals! ... Do you know what would happen to us if we made them our equals? Hundreds of years of civilization would collapse overnight."

derMeer: "Another thing you don't know - most foreigners don't - is that we whites didn't create the black states. Neither did our ancestors. The black states were determined by the settlement patterns and migratory movements of the black races in past centuries, more or less in the same way the location of countries in Europe was determined."

Moorland: "The worst charge against us is that we are fostering institutionalized segregation. The foreign media have twisted the real meaning of apartheid beyond recognition. ... The foreign press insists on confusing apartheid with discrimination , and the more we try to explain it, the more we're accused of modern slavery."

Nick Vister (BOSS): "It's the implementation of apartheid that actually permits us to safeguard the national identity of the various black people within our borders."

Camellion: "I really couldn't care less what you South Africans do in your own country, or for that matter on the continent of Africa. Neither does the average American. It's the liberals of the world you have to worry about. Their approach to most problems, especially to the problem of crime, is the infantile assumption that the identifying of a problem can immediately be solved by a solution, usually through government action. They have had the solution to the 'South Africa Problem' for years. All you do is make everyone equal ... Naturally your society would fall apart."
After Camellion's comment: "The three BOSS agents smiles. Here was a man who was a realist."

During the discussion, CIA agent Robert Duigen offers a different view: "Sure, the blacks over here are explosive, but in a sense you can't blame them." And he mentions a section of the Bantu Urban Areas Consolidation Act, requiring blacks to carry passbooks, proving they had a right to be wherever they were. But it's merely a blip during the long, one-sided conversation. (Late in the book, Duigen shows his racist side, referring to Cubans as "chili peppers" and bemoaning the hordes of immigrant "trash" allowed into the United States.)

It is not until halfway through the book that Camellion offers somewhat of a rebuttal to the steady flow of pro-apartheid comments - but his comment is immediately dismissed.
One has to analyze the situation from the standpoint of the colored people. As far as they're concerned, they're still second-rate citizens. Right after I arrived in South Africa, I recall a mulatto telling me, "They bring in these goddamned Italians and Greeks here who can't begin to speak any of the languages of the country and treat them equal, like white men. I speak English, Afrikaans and a little Xhosa and have lived here all my life, yet I can't even ride on the same bus with those bastards. Don't give me any propaganda bullshit about apartheid preserving a culture or nationalism!"
Arnaud van Wyk replies: "Whoever told you that is a good-for-nothing liar. Most of those half-breeds are nothing but a bunch of drunks. ... We whites must preserve our identity and culture."

Throughout the book, the anti-black asides pile up: Blacks are "existing in one long night of ignorance" despite Afrikaners' "attempts to educate them". ... "Whoever heard of a bunch of dumb niggers being able to rule themselves intelligently?" ... "Sadists, savages and murders who would turn this nation into a Marxist hell."

At one point, derMeer states: "There's every indication that your President Reagan and his administration are on our side." (But we still get Camellion thinking about Jimmy Carter's "Girl Scout leadership" during the Iranian hostages situation. "The Iranian camel lovers released the hostages because they wanted to get rid of them. They were frightened stiff of our new President." The Death Merchant then thinks how he'd like to use nerve gas on the entire country of Iran and slit the throat of every Iranian living in the United States.)

It is clear that Camellion has been hired to execute Nujomo because Nujomo has become too popular and is seen as a threat to the pro-apartheid rulers. Nujomo is planning a nationwide revolution and must be stopped before he broadcasts the day and time of the revolt via radio. The end of apartheid would be "a severe [economic] setback for the west, especially the United States" as there are vital minerals that can be obtained only from South Africa. Camellion thinks: "I'll be damned if I'll see Namibia fall into the hands of black commie savages controlled by these damned pig-farmers in the Soviet Union."

Etc.:

"To the Death Merchant the Reverend Verkramptes and his wife were the same kind of simpletons who had been well on the way toward wrecking the United States before the 1980 presidential election. In the US it was halfwits like the Verkramptes who would deify a murdered rock star [John Lennon, presumably], all the while forgetting that he was nothing more than a non-talent Pied Piper who helped lead millions of teen-agers down the wide road of drugs, rebellion and purposelessness. The same kind of liberal morons would hand the republic of South Africa, the most stable and advanced nation in all of Africa, over to millions of ignorant, bloodthirsty savages."

"Getting the Verkramples to tell all they knew was easier than making a wino accept a fifth of 'Sweet Lucy'".

"We should put him up in a suite at the Hotel Stupid!"

"Vaguely wondering why lovers close their eyes when they kiss - the psychological explanation is self-annulling - Camellion fired both Backpacker Auto Mags."

Two Camellion quips, before wasting someone: "You silly slob. You couldn't steal a banana from a drunken monkey!" & "You couldn't outdraw a crayon, you poor halfwit!"

Saturday, May 02, 2015

On Urban Riots

Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena. They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood. Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking. But most of all, alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people, he is shocking it by abusing property rights. There are thus elements of emotional catharsis in the violent act. This may explain why most cities in which riots have occurred have not had a repetition, even though the causative conditions remain. It is also noteworthy that the amount of physical harm done to white people other than police is infinitesimal and in Detroit whites and Negroes looted in unity.

A profound judgment of today's riots was expressed by Victor Hugo a century ago. He said, 'If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.'

The policymakers of the white society have caused the darkness; they create discrimination; they structured slums; and they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society. When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also demand that the white man abide by law in the ghettos. Day-in and day-out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; and he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. Let us say boldly that if the violations of law by the white man in the slums over the years were calculated and compared with the law-breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man. These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.
Martin Luther King, Jr., September 1967


Friday, May 01, 2015

40 Years Ago: Stones Play "Brown Sugar" On A Flat-Bed Truck On Fifth Avenue

Forty years ago - May 1, 1975 - the Rolling Stones played "Brown Sugar" while on a flat-bed truck driving down Fifth Avenue in New York City. News of the band's "Tour of the Americas" was announced later that day.



Brown Sugar (with radio DJs)


News report


More footage

Friday, April 24, 2015

Death Merchant #45: The Rim Of Fire Conspiracy

In The Rim Of Fire Conspiracy, Joseph Rosenberger reworks the plot of The Bermuda Triangle Action (DM #37), in which the Russians attempt to plant hydrogen bombs in the fault lines off the Atlantic coast, hoping to cause unimagined destruction to the southern and eastern United States.

This time, the "pig farmers" are drilling deep into the various fault lines off the west coast. Indeed, the U.S. determines that the May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was likely caused by the testing of a Russian nuclear device buried nine miles deep in the Earth, along the Pacific Plate. Future (and more powerful) explosions could trigger hundreds of now-dormant volcanoes along the Cascade Range, a stretch of 700 miles from British Columbia to northern California (referred to here as the Rim of Fire).

When Rosenberger switches to the Russian POV, we learn how the Soviets are digging the holes (with a laser) and planting the devices.

At the CIA's main station in Los Angeles, Richard Camellion is in a meeting during which a lot of information about Plate Tectonics Theory, volcanoes, and earthquakes is being discussed. Camellion asks several questions, specifically, what if multiple hydrogen bombs were buried deep in fracture zones and detonated (i.e., exactly what it turns out the Russians are planning to do)?

Through an unbelievable coincidence, the U.S. discovers a KGB agent in an Anchorage, Alaska, drug store. It turns out there is a KGB cell in the town, possibly monitoring the seismic waves from the various Soviet bomb tests. Camellion and a team of commandos head to Anchorage and invade a hotel run by Harry and Sally Bella, who are hiding the Russians (disguised as a group of British businessmen looking to buy some land).

After the raid on the hotel, someone notes that Sally Bella was injured. (This is a good example of how Rosenberger's personal opinions (I assume) get inserted into the narrative.)
"What about the woman?"

"Oh, she's all right. She has a swollen jaw, but it's not broken. She's mumbling about 'suing' us for 'invasion of privacy'! Have you ever heard anything more silly and ridiculous?"

"Yes, I have," Camellion snickered. "Like, Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy or that 'Deep Throat' in Watergate was a 'patriotic citizen' only doing his duty for 'the nation,'" He became serious. "We'll have a doctor check them at Elmandorf [Air Force Base] before we take off for California."
On the next page, the Death Merchant reveals that Deep Throat "was actually a KGB mole, a money-loving son-of-a-bitch that the Company managed to turn around".

After the Alaskan hotel raid, Camellion is on a nuclear sub, the Albatross. Questioning the captured Russians gives the U.S. information about two Soviet bases, one in Roca Oneal, in the Revillagigedo islands, and another in San Cristobal, one of the Galapagos islands. The Roca Oneal base is attacked and destroyed by a separate military group, so it's up to Camellion and 150 others to storm the San Cristobal island base and destroy it.

Three days after that mission, they are on another sub on their way to invade the top submarine in the Russian fleet, the Aleksandr Pushkin. After five helicopters riddle the sub with shells, the Death Merchant and the other men rappel down onto the sub and blast their way in. (I'm not sure why the Russian sub did not simply dive down into the ocean when it heard the copters approaching rather than stay on the surface and get shelled. Or perhaps wait until the men were on top of the sub, and then submerge.) A huge storm is on its way so the DM and his force have to make their way down four levels to the laser room in the very bottom of the vessel, destroy the laser, and get back up to the hovering copters before the weather gets too rough.

There is fierce fighting on the sub, of course, with both sides finally coming "eyeball to eyeball" in the close quarters. "What made the difference was attitude. The United States is a nation of freedom. In contrast, the Soviet Union is a nation of sheep."

In the early volumes of the series - written in the mid-70s - Rosenberger had Camellion make numerous insults about Richard Nixon. Now, in 1981, Nixon's criminal activities are apparently a-okay with the Death Merchant. Working under the name Alex Preston, Camellion is given papers listing his address as 143 East 65th Street in Manhattan. He muses to himself: "Only a block from where Richard Nixon lives. I'm in good company. Nixon didn't do anything that other Presidents didn't do. He just got caught at it."

As usual, it's the Carter administration that the Death Merchant cannot stand: "peanut minds from Foggy Bottom" led by a "Bible-quoting idiot", and "jackass fools who don't even know we already have another Pearl Harbor in the Caribbean". (I don't know to what event(s) this refers.) There is a reference in the next DM book to ex-President Carter, so we'll soon see how Rosenberger feels about Ronald Reagan.

We are told that Camellion is a necessary force in an evil world. "The man was a machine ... But the way to the Holy Grail of Freedom was filled with such men ... men fighting to keep the United States free of communist domination." ... One Navy man on the sub admits his dislike of CIA agents like 'Preston'. "But I suppose we need such people to keep the nation safe."

We also learn that Camellion hates CIA Executive Officer Fred DeRose because "he had heard DeRose mention to another officer that he enjoyed going to Tijuana to watch dog fights. To Camellion's way of thinking, any man (or woman) who enjoyed watching pitbulls tear at each other with their fangs was a no-good ten times over, on level with lice who beat children or battered their wives." ... The Death Merchant is also suspicious of DeRose's personality because he has long fingers; however, no further explanation is given.

Camellion actually comments at one point: "I dislike violence of any kind ..." (!!!) It doesn't appear to be a joke. Obviously, it's more than a little strange to have this coming from Camellion, who has killed thousands of people and has no compunction about killing innocent people if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and need to be "removed" so he can complete his mission without messy complications.

Even more amusing is that after someone refers to some "spic commies", Camellion considers letting the bigoted description slide by, chalking it up to "the worldwide disease of racism", but he decides he must confront the speaker, because "racism was the hallmark of a fool". However, Camellion is interrupted before he can speak out. (Of course, in every other book, Camellion himself uses similarly racist terms.)

Etc.:

"At the same time, [Harry Della] attempted to pull a .38 Charter Arms revolver from his right rear pocket. He might as well have eaten a pound of navy beans and have attempted to fart his way across the Pacific."

"As far as the CIA agent was concerned, it was Graham Cracker Day and Mogatovski was the big crumb."

"'Well, it won't be long now, as the man said when he caught his pecker in a buzz saw ...'"

"[Camellion's] left leg shot out and he employed a Kogan Geri top of the foot slam that landed directly where he wanted it to land - between Sergei Piriev's legs, the instep wrecking the Russian's sexual apparatus, crushing his testicles the way a power press would squeeze together two oranges."

"Surprisingly, Colonel Havilland sounded as calm as a sleeping oyster."

"Crap and cream puffs." (This faux obscenity is actually uttered three times!)